As Dave Doeren continues to try and rebuilt the NC State Wolfpack (5-3) in an ACC contender, things look to be a lot more difficult down the stretch in 2015 with the news that leading rusher Matt Dayes will have season-ending surgery for a foot injury. It’s the latest hit in what has been an uphill battle going through ACC play.
Dayes came on strong in 2015, emerging as a leader of the team right out the gate. His role took on greater importance when Shadrach Thornton was dismissed from the program after rushing for 203 yards in two games. The junior running back has picked up the slack, rushing for 865 yards (third in the ACC) on 134 carries with a conference-leading 12 touchdowns. His 108.1 yards per game average rank among the best in school history and is the highest average for a Wolfpack players since 1981.
The injury occurred last week in the team’s loss to the Clemson Tigers as Dayes sat out the second half with what the team originally called a toe injury. With the injury lingering this week, Dayes went in to see a specialist where it was determined that the surgery was necessary. This eliminates the team’s most reliable offensive weapon for the rest of the 2015 season and puts the Wolfpack’s rushing attack in jeopardy.
In his absence, the team will likely have to to turn backfield duties over to 5-foot-11, 236-pound sophomore Jaylen Samuels who has emerged as the No. 2 back for NC State in recent weeks. The big-bodied back has logged 208 yards on the season on 29 carries with six rushing touchdowns, averaging a healthy 7.17 yards per carry. He has also shown a strong ability to contribute in the passing game, catching 42 passes on the season for 429 yards with five receiving touchdowns. He’s found some success as a change-of-pace back for the Wolfpack this season but will have to step up to take on a more prominent role moving forward.
Injuries are always a constant menace in college football but this one is particularly painful for NC State. The loss of Matt Dayes is a major blow to this offense who must now regroup and refocus after losing three of their last four games to make sure they get bowl eligible in 2015. Will the Wolfpack be able to overcome the loss of their best offensive weapon?